Movement Snacks Get You Moving at Work

October 18, 2022

It’s been said that too much of anything can be bad for you. And according to local physical therapist Mary Rose Strickland, this theory holds true with sitting – or, pretty much any prolonged sedentary behavior, for that matter.

In an age when more people find themselves sitting for hours at a time at home, in transit and at work, researchers are finding sobering parallels between inactivity and an increased risk of health complications and chronic diseases. Yet studies have shown that the average American spends more than half of his or her waking hours in a sitting position, mostly while at work.

“We’re at an incredible time in our country when a growing number of people are beginning to accept the fact the movement is medicine, and yet they still find themselves sitting throughout most of the day,” said Strickland, co-owner of New Life Physical Therapy. “Without making concerted efforts to overcome all this sitting, this can unfortunately lead to issues like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

“It’s all about moving, engaging your muscles and waking up your body, even if it’s just a little at a time,” said Strickland. “Such efforts help keep your body alert, burning calories and increasing your energy levels. I call these movement snacks”

To accomplish this within a work environment, Strickland offers the following advice:

  • Sweat Your Commute: Instead of driving or taking the bus/train to work, get up early and walk. Or, ride your bike. If you have to drive, park at the far end of the lot, then take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Take a Stand: Take advantage of any opportunity you have to stand. If you can’t get your boss to buy you an adjustable-height desk, then stand when you’re on the phone or eating your lunch. And, trade internal email for a quick walk to a coworker’s desk.
  • Break for Fitness: When you take breaks, don’t just sit in the lounge with a coffee, snack and your smartphone. Take a quick walk around the building or block, or do some stretching.
  • Snack on movements:  Don’t have a formal break? Can’t get away from your line or computer?  Find key movements that you can engage in directly in your work environment.  This may be a quick forearm/wrist stretch for a factory line worker as there is a pause in production or in between parts.  On a call at your desk? Utilize speaker or headset and engage in some hip stretches and squats to get the blood flowing through large muscles in your body.  Don’t focus on doing this 1 or 2 times per day for 10 minutes, but rather take “snack-size bites” frequently throughout the day.  Squeeze your shoulder blades together 1 x every 10 minutes.  Do 5 squats on the half hour, etc.

In addition, Strickland says sitting throughout the day can cause weaknesses in your muscles and joints which can lead to poor posture and unhealthy imbalances in your body. Over time, this can cause discomfort, pain, injury or other complications. If this is a concern, a physical therapy team like that at New Life Physical Therapy can assess a person’s individual situation, identify weaknesses and imbalances in the body, and put her or him on track toward preventing future complications.